Stocks in the United States fell for a fourth day on Friday amid persistent worries about the US budget deficit. Treasury bonds and the dollar lost ground.
Ratings agency Standard & Poor's warned on Thursday it might cut Britain's AAA credit rating because of soaring public debt levels, arousing fears of a similar action against the United States.
Gold rose above $US960 per ounce for the first time since late March. Shares of Newmont Mining Corp rose 0.9% to $US47.04.
Caterpillar Inc was down 3.5% at $US34.31. Bank of America was down 3% at $US11.07. However, McDonald's Corp rose 2.5% to $57.08.
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 14.81 points, or 0.18%, to 8,277.32.
Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 1.33 points, or 0.15%, to 887.00. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 3.24 points, or 0.19%, to 1,692.01.
Volume was light on the New York Stock Exchange due to the approach of the Memorial Day holiday weekend. US financial markets will be closed on Monday for the holiday.
On the New York Stock Exchange, about 1.06 billion shares changed hands - below last year's daily average of 1.49 billion.
About 1.62 billion shares were traded on the Nasdaq - also well below last year's daily average of 2.28 billion.